Help! High Altitude Disaster!

Decorating By BakerAnn Updated 10 May 2011 , 2:38am by BakerAnn

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BakerAnn Posted 8 May 2011 , 7:37am
post #1 of 3

Here's the long & short of it: Decided to make a 9 x 13 kitchen cake for the potluck dinner tomorrow after church using the "Darn Good Chocolate Cake" recipe from here on CC. After cooling, the first layer seemed very dry so I decided to just try the box mix w/o embellishments for the second layer.

After filling I set the top layer on and to my horror it began to fall apart ..... literally looked like those commercials for Alaskan vacations where great chunks of ice are falling off into the ocean! icon_cry.gif

I tried gluing it together with buttercream, applying a crumb coating ..... I just helplessly watched it disintegrate before my eyes. I have never, EVER experienced this before, but then happened to think that I had a successful cake business in Ohio, later another in Texas, but now I'm at 4200' above sea level so maybe that was the cause.

I used Betty Crocker as my base mix (have for many years with great results) and even pulled the box out of the trash to check high altitude directions. It said no adjustments were necessary!

I just finished a green bean casserole for the church, and of course the family will be delighted they get the whole cake to themselves no matter what it looks like. But I am desperate to hear from anyone with advice for baking at this alttude so this never happens again .... and certainly not with a client! icon_eek.gif

Thank you for any advice you may have ..... and happy Mother's Day to everyone!

2 replies
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Elcee Posted 8 May 2011 , 5:43pm
post #2 of 3

Hi, BakerAnn, I live in Colorado and I'm at I'm at around 6300 ft above sea level. Anything over 3500 ft is considered high altitude.

I'm not familiar with the recipe you referred to but I bake both from scratch and from mixes. When using a cake mix (straight or doctored) add 1/4 cup of flour and increase the liquid by 2 tbs per cup even if the box says you don't need to icon_smile.gif.

When baking from scratch, at the most basic level, you'll need to:
decrease sugar by 2 tbs per cup
increase liquid by 2 tbs per cup
decrease leavening by 1/4 tsp per tsp

It also helps to separate your eggs; beat the whites to stiff peaks; fold them into the batter at the end. I don't always do this, just sometimes.

I also bake at a slightly lower temp (325) for a slightly shorter time. If a recipe says 35-40 minutes, I start checking at 25 minutes.

Baking at high altitude is trial and error, some recipes simply don't convert but you'll find what works for you!

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BakerAnn Posted 10 May 2011 , 2:38am
post #3 of 3

Thank you Elcee. I appreciate all the tips and see lots of experimental cakes in my immediate future! I knew there was a difference in baking at various altitudes but didn't anticipate them being this drastic.

I really appreciate your reply. icon_smile.gif

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